Last push on big bills

Senate Democrats this week want to pass two controversial bills on the back of defense authorization legislation. But it’s not clear whether they have the votes.

There is a massive lobbying push to round up votes on an immigration reform bill called the DREAM Act and on a measure affecting the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule about gay people in the military.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOPINION | 5 ways Democrats can win back power in the states THE MEMO: Trump's base cheers attacks on McConnell It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (D-Nev.) surprised many on Capitol Hill by scheduling these votes so close to the election.

But before any votes on either gays in the military or immigration, the Senate must pass a motion, requiring 60 votes, to proceed to the defense authorization bill.

The DREAM Act has previously attracted GOP support, though several Republicans indicate they will reject it this week. 

The pressure from immigration-reform advocates will be on Democrats who voted against it in 2007, including Sens. Max BaucusMax BaucusTrump has yet to travel west as president Healthcare profiles in courage and cowardice OPINION | On Trump-Russia probe, don’t underestimate Sen. Chuck Grassley MORE (Mont.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuCNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' Trump posts O'Keefe videos on Instagram MORE (La.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSenators push for possible FCC enforcement over Lifeline fraud Democrat senator: Trump has elevated Kim Jong-Un to the world stage It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJon TesterWhy 'cherry-picking' is the solution to our nation’s flood insurance disaster Trump signs Veterans Affairs bill at New Jersey golf club It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (Mont.) and Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.). 

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezLawmakers target horse meat trade Senators, staff get approval to testify in Menendez corruption trial Trump admin not opposed to new war authorization MORE (D-N.J.) last week indicated Democrats are closing in on the necessary votes for the DREAM Act, but getting to 60 will be extremely challenging.

The vote on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will also be close, with much of the attention now on centrist Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over MORE (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

There is other important legislation to get done this week. While some House Democrats are not thrilled with the long-stalled small-business bill that cleared the Senate last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has embraced it. That bill will clear the House and soon be signed by the president.

With the House expected to adjourn at the end of next week, lawmakers are scrambling to get bills on the congressional agenda. But many measures are slowly dying or will limp into the lame-duck session with an uncertain future.

Bills on Cuba travel, Internet gambling, stem cells, food safety and child nutrition are on life support, hoping to be revived after the elections.

Their fate is better than others, however. Climate change is dead, as is so-called card-check legislation favored by labor unions. A budget rescissions bill that President Obama called on Congress to pass in May has gone nowhere.

A U.S.-Russia arms treaty, however, has attracted momentum. The START treaty cleared a Senate panel last week, 14-4. Despite needing 67 votes to clear the full chamber, it stands a better chance than most pending bills passing in the lame-duck session.